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World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th of October every year. This year, I am dedicating this day to Mental Health Awareness. Talking about awareness and support, the first thing which comes in mind is ‘stigma’. People are afraid to get help or support because of stigma. Regardless of how much mental health issues are prevalent in Pakistan these days, people mostly do not seek help because of the stigma attached. Lack of awareness and less knowledge about mental health issues is a serious concern for Pakistanis.
Mental health issues are 44% prevalent in Pakistan according to a survey. However, the good news is that few people have started accepting their psychological health issues along with their physical health issues (the percentage is very low though).
People are afraid of others in general because of their psychological issues. Clients I see are so afraid of being judged that they are suffering from many years but never tell anyone about it. The first thing they ask me is that I know I am not alright, but I want you not to judge me. That pain and fear are clearly visible in their eyes.
Awareness is already widespread in foreign countries but when it comes to our country ‘Pakistan’ we are lacking behind here. People here see and know that their fellow /family members/friends are suffering but due to the fear of being labeled as ‘Nafsiyati Mareez’, insane and many other names, they don’t offer help or suggest them to go for professional treatment.
When someone goes through any sort of physical health issue, they get sympathy and help. However, when someone is diagnosed with mental health disorders, they are told they are just exaggerating everything which is not at all true. People with mental health issues are not different from others, they are just like those who are diagnosed with any medical condition like hypertension/diabetes etc. There are people in rural areas who are totally unaware of mental health issues.
Through this article, I would like to convey a message to everyone to play your part and spread awareness, even if you provided guidance to one person properly and that person is seeking help now, it will be a great help for humanity. Why awareness is important? Until and unless we will spread awareness, we can never encourage and support people to talk about and seek help for their psychological issues.
Through awareness, prevention of psychological issues can be done too. As people will start knowing about signs, symptoms and contributing factors which can be the risk for their mental health issues, they can work on them together with a professional from the very start and this is where awareness will play its role.